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Bitesized Blighty: January 27, 2017

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  • We started off our week with a freezing fog, which made it hard to see your hand in front of you or any of London’s landmarks. While the fog made our Monday morning commutes a bit dreary, it didn’t impede the team from getting in on time, but it did cancel 100 flights at Heathrow. 
  • Prime Minister Theresa May is the first foreign leader to meet with US President Donald Trump, since Mr. Trump became president. Strengthening US-UK ties, trade and foreign affairs are likely to be high on the agenda. Although the UK cannot begin to negotiate trade deals until it formally leaves the EU, Mr. Trump has said he wants a "quick" deal as soon possible. In a speech to US Republicans on Thursday, Mrs. May said she wanted to "renew the special relationship" between the UK and the US. She said the two countries "must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighbourhoods too." 
  • The Brexit uncertainty continues, the British government recently published a short bill to authorise Brexit as opposition MPs complained that they did not have enough time to fully debate the legislation. The bill, which is only five paragraphs long, declares that the prime minister may notify the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. It adds that this is the case “despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment”. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was written as tightly as possible to prevent amendments by hostile MPs. But on Thursday evening Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said Labour had tabled a series of amendments to the bill, including a requirement for a vote in parliament before the government can agree any final exit deal.
  • In the Irish government’s view, London, after Brexit, will remain Europe’s financial capital. They believe that there will still be various ways for Ireland’s financial services industry to profit from Britain’s exit from the EU. With this spirit, Dublin hosted the annual European Financial Forum, and it appears likely that international banks with London bases, such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Morgan Stanley, will move some of their operations and staff to Ireland after Brexit. However, Irish regulators are not rushing to promote Dublin as a place for investment banks to transfer high-risk trading activities. The caution may be due to Ireland’s reputation after its 2008 financial crash and EU-International Monetary Fund rescue, which they are conscious of rebuilding. 

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